Portugal's Algarve: Part 1
France & Portugal
After Paris, we flew to into Faro on the south coast of Portugal. As we stepped out of the plane and onto the tarmac we took the deepest sigh of relief. We sensed a major shift in the air. The warm, dry air. Being immediately comforted by our new surroundings, our hearts slowed down a few beats. No more city life for us, this was when the real vacation began! We must have had the biggest dazed look on our faces as we gathered our luggage in the small airport, and picked up our rental car from the kind people at the desk. It was clear we were giddy to be here.
After sliding our suitcases into the back of the car, we climbed inside and set the directions to Casa Mãe in Lagos. We would be staying here for two nights before driving northwest in the algarve to stay in the national park on the west coast. Our time spent in Lagos is what I will be covering here in part one, the national park will be next! As we were driving on the most pristine roads through the gorgeous dry coastal landscape, we just smiled at each other. This was where we were suppose to be.
*Photos were taken by my husband Scott.
Where do I begin with this place. I’ll first say that I’m not typically one for hotels. AirBnbs are what I gravitate towards, for convenience, privacy, and price. But when I discovered this place in search of companies doing things unique in this area of the south (sustainable practices, local makers, organic farming) Casa Mãe popped up and I knew we had to experience a few nights here if we were going to travel all of this way.
Take words such as beautiful, calming, thoughtful, unpretentious, and thoroughly unbelievable - and then think of how you would describe something to evoke ten times more emotion than those previous words did for you. This was Casa Mãe. Then place this unimaginable hotel in the cute, walkable town of Lagos by the ocean, and you just need to straight up pinch me every five minutes to remind me this isn’t a dream.
There is an organic farm on the premises that you can roam, a high quality restaurant, a shop stocking local makers and more quality sourced items, a pool, a spa (I’ve never been to a spa before, and didn’t here, but figured it was worth mentioning), and the most dreamy rooms oozing with comfort. Their bath products are all natural and organic, and they let you take complimentary beach towels and umbrellas out with you for the day. Beyond all of this, the service we received was unmatched with any human interaction we had ever experienced. The people here, at Casa Mãe and Portugal in general, are so excited and happy to talk to you. It is a type of pure kindness and genuineness that really floored Scott and I. All I can say is they are doing something right, and I hope to visit more in the future so they can rub off on me ;).
the first day
Before arriving at our hotel above, we stopped in at Convent Bio on our way to Lagos. I had found it online a few days before when searching for organic farms to visit in the area. It is a total gem and we go back there several times on this trip, so I’ll just say one thing - if you are in the area you must visit this place. They not only have an organic farm, but they have a beautiful shop and cafe where you can get organic and local groceries and goods. Most importantly, it is ran by some of the kindest, most welcoming souls we have ever encountered.
After getting settled at Casa Mãe in Lagos, we walked down to a place called Beats & Burritos for lunch. It was the most unpretentious, neat, and fun little place where we got some of the best food. They do build your own bowls and burritos, or you can choose from a selection that they have curated. After filling up, we went exploring the coast near Lagos a bit to the west. We hiked down into two coves, and stayed at the second one to lay on the sand and swim. It was our first time swimming in the Atlantic, and luckily the air was pretty warm because the cool water felt really nice!
Afterwards we had a small dinner and walked the town at sunset. It was gorgeous. Naturally Scott found some gelato too.
the second day (AM)
I hadn’t properly slept since arriving in Europe almost a week before, and something about the incredibly cozy bed at Casa Mãe and the calm of Lagos put me into the deepest of sleeps. Scott let me snooze while he walked around the organic garden on the premises doing a little photoshoot. I’m so glad he did, these captures are some of my favorite. Afterwards I moseyed myself down to the patio and we ordered coffee and breakfast. Casa Mae makes their own nut milk and it was crazy delicious. I believe it had cinnamon? I ordered their overnight oats with an americano and steamed nut milk. It was heavenly. We finished our coffees in the garden, I think we were both ready to move in by this point ;).
the second day (PM)
We very slowly got ready and drove down to Convent Bio for snacks before heading to some of the beaches to the east, and discovered the market was closed (Sunday). So we decided to head back to Lagos, grab lunch, and go to a big beach we had seen to the west of where we were the day before. Of course we went to Beats & Burritos once again! This time I got the hummus bowl and it was fantastic.
The big beach was a hit and we stayed all afternoon swimming in the clearest most gorgeous ocean. The sun was so bright here! But not so bright that it depleted you. This kind of brightness was energizing, and drew you to being outside always. After showering up, we went to dinner at - you guess it - Beats & Burritos again! Walked those gorgeous sunset streets of old town Lagos, and snagged Scott one more gelato. We couldn’t handle that this was going to be our last night here.
the last day (AM)
We had another beautiful breakfast down on the patio at Casa Mãe before driving east to Benagil Beach, where we would do a boat tour of the caves. This was one of our favorite things we did on this trip! It was gorgeous. The boat was nice and small with only a handful of people and our guide was super kind and funny. A couple of girls across from us were from America too and it was really nice hearing our own accents ;). We did the 30 minute tour and the caves were absolutely stunning. Plus, the view of the coast from the water was completely worth it all!
Afterwards we did a hike above the coast and it was breathtaking. Some of the best views we had seen in the entire area. Then we hopped in the car and went to Convent Bio for some smoothies and to stock up on all of our produce and dry goods (and wine!) for the next leg of the trip. We were off to the national park 45 minutes north on the west coast of Portugal. This time in an AirBnb surrounded by nothing but farmland and epic coastline. This is where I will meet you in the next post for part two of the Algarve! See you then :).
All posts on this trip:
Portugal’s Algarve: Part 1
Portugal’s Algarve: Part 2 (Coming soon)